Jan 3, 2017 We started the New Year with a two day drive to Torrox, Spain where we will spend the next two months. Torrox is along the Costa del Sol area in southern Spain. Never been south of Toledo Spain so the time should be filled with many adventures. As we drove thru fog, I keep noticing cars and trucks without the right tail light. I counted 27. Gary & I decided there must be a gremlin attacking the vehicles. Weird!
Jan 6 When going out to eat and walking the boardwalk, we realized Torrox had a lighthouse. It took us 30 minutes to walk to the lighthouse which also meant we had walked the entire length of the boardwalk. Our apartment is at the other end of the boardwalk. The lighthouse was closed for the “low” season. We still could see the old Roman ruins dating from the 2nd century. The view was glorious in both directions.
Jan 12 When renting a car in Europe the contract is only for 30 days. We found a EuropCar agent in Nerja to renew our 118 day contract. Nerja is a small village east of Torrox only 9 km away with a EuropCar agent. Our GPS is having trouble with directions in the towns Spain. I guess Spain isn’t as good as they should be with updating the various GPS companies. With help from the local travel agency and the Monica hotel we found the rental office. After several phone calls to determine how to renew the contract we were free to walk the town. There are very few restaurants along the boardwalk but many places to stay which is different from Torrox. In the middle of Nerja, there is a great pedestrian walkway along which many shops and restaurants/cafes are waiting for us to spend our euros. We will be back in 30 days to do this all over again.
Jan 10 We were out walking back from a lunch of sardines, calamari and smoked duck breast when we saw Brian (left) and Michael (right) out on the terrace of their restaurant/home. Our house sitting hosts from Tennessee referred us to Brian when seeking our accommodations. They invited us up for a beer and to meet their Norwegian friends. It’s so nice to be able to have an English conversation with other folks. It’s just that after 43 years of living together, Gary & I can almost read each other’s mind!
Jan 15 Sunday Buffet at La Pataleta (owned by Brian and Michael). The herring was delicious - 3 different styles. The Danes take lard packaged like butter, and spread it on rye bread. This is eaten with the herring - yum! Cooked salmon, smoked salmon, sausage, meat balls, roast beef, pork and of course cooked sweet red cabbage. Dessert was this glorious chocolate cake with a chocolate mousse topping OMG! All for only 15 euros!
Jan 17 We drove into Malaga, Spain. Our first stop was Taste of America for some peanut butter but we ended up with more: stove top stuffing, butter fingers, chocolate chips, sugar free strawberry jam for the all important coconut flour pancakes. Yes it doesn’t make sense - sugar free jam and butter fingers - What can I say??? We then parked near the Roman theater and the Alcazaba or the palace/fortress of the ruling Moslems. The fortress had a great view of Malaga, bull fighting ring and the marina. If we go again we will take the local bus and avoid the narrow streets and the parking issues when the GPS can’t find where in town you are driving!
Jan 20 The above pictures are from our day in Ronda, Spain. Ronda is famous for the gorge that surrounds the city on 3 sides making it an important defensive location. The name Ronda (round) is for the fact that the town is surround by mountains on all sides at 750m or 2460 feet. The town is also famous for the bull fighters, Don Pedro Romero killed over 5,000 bulls during his lifetime. Sad to think of but this is the Spanish culture. The mountains received 8.5 inches of snow the previous day. OH MY GOSH it was so cold and the buildings we visited were colder inside than outside. After the tour the guide helped us to find a restaurant serving suckling pig. It melted in your mouth. We washed it down with some lovely local wine.
Jan 22 Craig wrote to say they had booked a hotel in Maui for the October wedding. I am so happy for Karen and Craig. YEAH!!
Jan 26 Gibraltar We realized we forgot the camera while sitting on the tour bus hence all these pictures are downloaded from the Internet. This picture shows the airport landing strip which we had to cross before getting to the town. Spain & Britain came to an agreement back in the 1700’s regarding the ownership of the territory. Today, Spain hates this arrangement. Approximately 13,000 Spanish citizens cross the border everyday to work. I’m sure the workers don’t mind. The view from the rock is wonderful - looking at all the expensive yachts in the harbor. St Michael’s cave is large enough for small concerts and was lit with colored lights. The monkeys that reside on the rock are anxious to steal sunglasses or bags. We didn’t loose a thing. The monkeys were on their best behavior.
Feb 1 Granada was named after the Arabic word for pomegranate as pictured in this fountain. We had a quick tour of the center of Granada and then are free time was spent having hot chocolate and churros. The hot chocolate was like pudding!. Our next adventure was the Alhambra, a UNESCO site. The palace/fortress was built in the 1200’s. This kingdom ruled this part of southern Spain until Ferdinand and Isabella kicked them out in 1492. Ring a Bell? Christopher Columbus probably received his monies to discover a passage to India in this palace. The palace on the outside was plain but the inside rooms were full of small rooms with lovely architecture. It was a great day!
Feb 2 Learning what electrical appliances we could use together. Welllllll, Gary was in the shower, the electric heater was on and I was using the hair dryer. We flipped the circuit breaker. This was the last straw. We asked to be moved and found this apartment for the same amount with a better view and better kitchen. It’s warmer too! No central heating in the 2 apartments we rented. We get the morning light but we have to put up with barking dogs. Ohhh Welll!
Feb 7 We drove to the small village of La Herradura which is west of Torrox. The village is surrounded by cliffs and a small bay. It was a beautiful day to just sit and watch the water.
Feb 14 Happy Valentine’s Day We had a wonderful dinner at La Farola - a more upscale restaurant which is very popular with the Spanish on Sunday afternoon. They opened at 7:30 for the Non-Spanish customers.
Feb 15 & 16 Up early for our two day tour. Our first stop was Tarifa - only 8 ½ miles from Morocco. The town walls, buildings with courtyards and narrow walkways definitely were of Arabic design. A ferry will take passengers to Tangiers from the harbor. Next stop was the white pueblo village of Vejer. We only had time for lunch - too bad. On to Cadiz which is situated on a peninsula. We visited the Camera Obsura (using a mirror placed on the roof) to see the city. The view from the terrace was awesome - much better than the presentation. I wish we would have had more time to walk around. Our hotel was in Jerez. This city is famous for the local sherry. The grapes are specific to sherry, harvested, and then dried. Alcohol is added to the juice to reach 15 -17 %. During initial 4 years of aging, a portion of the 4 yr old sherry is siphoned off for final maturation. A portion of the 3 yr old goes into the 4 yr old, a portion of the 2 yr old goes into the 3 yr old etc. A natural yeast grows at 15-17 percentage and lives in the barrels until more alcohol is added above the 17 % range which kills the yeast. Very interesting. Jerez is also known for the pure breed Spanish horse. We attended a horse show which was very interesting - beautiful horses. Lunch was in the old town center of Jerez and then the long bus ride home. The tour was better than I expected!!
Feb 21 & 22 I have always wanted to see the Mezquita-Cathedral of Cordoba ever since seeing my parent’s photos. It was worth the wait. The columns and arches are mystifying. Imagine how the mosque looked to the medieval peasants! Luckily the citizens chose to retain much of the mosque when constructing the cathedral. I often wonder why the church doesn’t sell off their art, silver and gold to provide a proper retirement for the monks, nuns and priests who have dedicated their lives to the church. Guess I’m not in charge! We arrived early enough in Seville to walk the gardens of the 1929 exposition. It became apparent that the navigation of the world and the claiming of colonies for Spain made Seville a rich city. It is a beautiful city of grand architecture, an amazing cathedral, wide open squares and plenty of green space. The cathedral was huge and opulent. I particularly liked the tomb of Christopher Columbus. I would definitely come back to Seville.
Tour Guide Nadine Wagner was our tour guide for Granada, Cadiz, Jerez, Tarifa, Cordoba and Seville. She was knowledgeable on many subjects of Andalucia. I would highly recommend her. Her email is email@example.com
Feb 24 Randy, Gary’s brother, sent us an email with this inside. Gary’s Grandfather (AF) designed the announcement. I thought it deserved attention. The middle picture is AF and the right picture is AF when working at Curtis Publishing company. Thanks, AF and Randy for the memories.
March 3 Happy Birthday to Me We had a lovely lunch of Pork Ribs and a great bottle of wine at La Farola - highly recommend this restaurant.
March 5 This was our last day in Torrox, Spain. We attended the Buffet at La Pateleta (Brian & Michael’s restaurant). I really enjoyed our time in Torrox. The people are friendly, the weather is excellent in winter and it’s cheap! Lots to see. It’s too bad Spain is so far away.
March 6 Valencia, Spain Our lovely apartment for the week was 50 meters from the beach. We were on the 4th floor so we had a view of the marina which was beautiful at night.
March 8 We took the #31 bus into the old city center. We had a look around the Central Market. Gary would have a wonderful time buying the local products to cook and eat if we lived close to the market. Alas! We walked to one of two remaining gates to the city pictured here and then slowly made our way back to the main plaza. We gathered along with what seemed like half of the residents of the city for a pyrotechnic display. The noise shook my chest! It was amazing to hear. This event is part of the Fallas, a traditional celebration held in commemoration of Saint Joseph in Valencia. The term Falles refers to both the celebration and the monuments burnt during the celebration. We left before the burnings but we did see them erecting the monuments.
March 7 We spent the day walking the boardwalk down to the Marina and then over to the Visitor Office. I wanted a walking map of the historical part of the city. My dogs were barking by the time we got home - a total of 8.2K. We did stop for lunch and alcoholic refreshments.
March 10 We took the #19 bus to the area of the city built for the Arts and Sciences. Our goal was to attend the Aquarium. It was nice. It seemed like it was part zoo as well. We ate in the expensive Aquarium restaurant surrounded by fish swimming nowhere.
March 11 Back again to the area of Arts and Science buildings as pictured here. Amazing buildings! The science museum was only interesting for the dinosauer exhibit. Thumbs down. We thought we would walk to the Market Colon for lunch but because it was Saturday the restaurants were booked - holiday week. I remembered a Mexican restaurant a block away. We had to wait until 2pm for them to open. It was worth the wait!! This was the best food I have had since our lunch in Briancon, France. It was a reasonably priced tasting menu which was delicious!
March 12 Cleaned the apartment, washed the clothes and finally packed and said goodbye to Spain. What a wonderful country!!